Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hitler's Furies

In Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields tells the story of German woman who settled in the “East” during World War II, both to help Germainze areas of Poland and the Ukraine with pioneers, wives, secretaries, office workers, and female concentration camp guards.

I’m not sure why Lower’s book has received such attention, even being a contender for the National Book Award.  It really offers no new information or bombshells about Nazi atrocities during the war.  Nor does it shed damning light on the role of women in the war.  It has been long known to scholars that virtually all sections of German society participated in the destruction of Europe’s Jews. Lower’s thesis, that woman can participate in genocide both overtly and by proxy, is hardly shocking.

It is also a shame that a book that is relatively sober and denounces the shock value of femininity, sexuality, and murder, would have such a salacious title.  Hitler’s Furies conjures up images of indoctrinated amazons, going out to kill under the firm sway of the Fuhrer’s magnetic cult of personality.

The book shows the opposite.  Most of the women where quite ordinary in every sense; they were not furies, simply women who bought into an ideology that so denigrated Jews as subhuman that they could, in such a culture, kill them without feeling as if they were killing real  human beings.

That is the chilling element of genocide.  Furies, monsters or beasts do not commit genocide.  Regular people, like you and me, are capable of such terrible acts.

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